When setting up a business, it can feel like your to-do list is never-ending. There are so many tasks to complete – some complex, some more straightforward. Deep in that to-do list comes the task of setting up your corporate bank account.

Setting up a corporate bank account in the UAE can be a little arduous for international entrepreneurs. It requires careful consideration and there are several boxes to tick to ensure you have everything in place before approaching your bank of choice.

With that in mind, here’s your five-step guide to opening a UAE bank account, covering everything from the documents required to the account opening process.

1. Get your business licence
This step is absolutely crucial. Without your business licence, the bank will not recognise you as a business and you won’t be able to open your corporate bank account. The licence application process consists of four simple steps:

  • Choose your business activity: Decide on the business activity and type of business you wish to set up.
  • Finalise your company name: Ensure your name aligns with the UAE’s naming conventions and is available to register.
  • Finalise all incorporation paperwork: Complete your business licence application.
  • Receive your licence notification: Once your business licence is granted you can press ahead with opening your corporate bank account.

2. Get your documents in order
The next step is to ensure that your legal and corporate documents are in line. The exact documents required will differ slightly from bank to bank. As a general rule, however, most financial institutions require the following:

  1. A corporate account opening form.
  2. A copy of your trade licence.
  3. A copy of your company’s certificate of incorporation.
  4. A copy of your share certificates.
  5. A copy of the company’s memorandum and articles of association.
  6. Office lease agreement.
  7. Company profile.
  8. Personal profile of shareholders.
  9. Personal 6 months bank statement of all shareholders. 
  10. Copies of passports for all partners in the company.

Some banks may also require additional supporting documents: this may include contracts or invoices, reference letters from partners and company business plans.

One more thing to note: If your company is owned by another company, you may be required to provide the same documents for both. If the owner company is registered outside the UAE, these documents will need to be attested by the UAE embassy from the country of origin, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in the UAE. Your local company formation specialist can give you detailed advice on these requirements.

3. Check visa-related requirements
The next step towards opening your corporate bank account is to establish whether your company shareholders are required to have residency visas.

Some banks require proof of this from at least one shareholder, while others do not ask for it at all. So the issue of whether or not your shareholders have residency visas in place may have a bearing on which banks you consider applying to. It’s best to find out early which banks have these requirements so it doesn’t cause any delays to your application further down the line.

4. Choosing your bank
Once your documents are in place, you can now approach one of the UAE’s many banks.

There are several local and international banks to choose from in the UAE including Emirates NBD, Noor Bank, RAK Bank, Mashreq Bank, Emirates Islamic Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). The one that’s right for you will depend on your specific requirements.

When choosing a bank, you should consider:

Eligibility criteria: When choosing a bank in the UAE, it is important to consider that most banks require you to have a residence visa. Additionally, selected banks may request you to provide a local address in the UAE.

Income: Most banks in the UAE require a continuous minimum balance. This can range up to AED 1m, though most start much lower. For example, Noor Bank offers three tiers of accounts with minimum balances ranging between AED 20,000 and AED 500,000.

5. Application process
Once you have the required paperwork in place, you can begin the formal account opening process.

It’s usually advisable to visit a branch and speak face-to-face with an advisor who can answer any questions you might have. You can either book this appointment yourself or ask our Client Service Specialist to do it for you through our Bank Account Opening Assistance Service.

At your appointment, which should take no more than 30 to 60 minutes, you’ll be required to present the documents listed above for verification. If all is in order, the bank representative will let you know that they can move forward with the setup process. In most cases, your account will be open in around 10-15 working days.

Make it easy with a business setup partner
There it is – the complete UAE business bank account set up process.

While it only consists of a few steps, ensuring you complete each one accurately will go a long way to getting your bank account open as quickly as possible – particularly when it comes to preparing the necessary documents.

Working with an expert is the best way to ensure this process runs smoothly. Our Client Service Specialist can assist with the entire process – helping you decide which bank is right for you and putting you in contact with the relevant institutions.

You have already got plenty of things to worry about when establishing a new business: make sure that setting up your corporate bank account isn’t one of them.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Our team takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please Click here.